Downgraded Flossie Leaving Hawaii

July 30, 2013

The remnants of what was Tropical Storm Flossie are currently northwest of Kauai and moving away from the islands at about 15 miles per hour, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. (PST) advisory showed Flossie’s maximum sustained winds had weakened to 30 mph.

“Yesterday Flossie was a tropical storm with maximum winds of 45 to 50 mph when it passed within about 20 miles of the southernmost Big Island and then past Maui, the next island to the northwest,” said Scott Stransky, senior scientist at AIR Worldwide. “It was the first direct tropical storm impact on Hawaii in 21 years, since Hurricane Iniki struck Kauai and caused considerable damage in 1992. However, as Flossie approached Big Island it encountered upper atmosphere wind shear that weakened it; continued shear and interaction with the mountains on the Big Island and Maui weakened it further.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center downgraded Flossie to a tropical depression, then downgraded the storm further to a post-tropical remnant low.

Flossie first came to the attention of the National Hurricane Center in Miami as an area of low pressure off the coast of Mexico. Three days later it was upgraded to a tropical depression, then to a tropical storm.

At Flossie’s wind speeds the chief exposures at risk were residential buildings, according to AIR Worldwide. Most single-family and duplex homes in Hawaii are of wood frame construction, about 40 precent of which are only single wall wood frame. These structures have load-bearing walls generally made of thin plywood boards, and have greater susceptibility to wind damage. They fared poorly when Hurricane Iniki struck, according to AIR Worldwide.

Because of this susceptibility and the additional concerns for the potential of heavy rainfall on Sunday the Governor of Hawaii issued a declaration of Emergency.

But Flossie weakened as it approached the islands, and never made landfall. According to reports, its impact was relatively mild. Strong, gusty winds knocked out electricity to about 10,000 customers, mainly on Maui and the Big Island. Streetlights and other public services such as running water also were intermittently affected in some places. All airports remained open, but many flights were canceled or delayed ahead of the storm’s arrival, according to AIR Worldwide.

According to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, the satellite data and surface observations show no organized thunderstorm activity nor indications of a well-defined center of circulation. The center has declared Flossie to no longer be a tropical cyclone. The Center is forecasting that Flossie will remain a remnant low for some time before dissipating as it continues to track into the open Pacific.

AIR Worldwide is also monitoring the remnants of Tropical Storm Dorian in the Atlantic, currently passing through the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the newly formed Tropical Depression 7 (likely to be named “Gil” shortly) in the Eastern Pacific, which has formed near where Flossie formed, well off the coast of Mexico.

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